By Bob Weiss, Travel Contributor

BOSTON (CBS) – McCourt Construction Company Inc. of Boston was the apparent low bidder for the contract to repair the Callahan Tunnel scheduled to start on December 27. The tunnel will be closed for approximately two-and-half months.

The McCourt bid was $19,307,507.50 besting Barletta Heavy Division of Canton by $687,552.50.

There will be cash incentives for McCourt to finish early and penalties if the job is not finished on time.

Other bids opened on August 6 were by SPS New England, Inc., The Middlesex Corp., Will Construction, A.A. and J.F. White Contracting Co. Their bids ranged upwards from $24.7 million.

The closing of the Callahan Tunnel this winter is expected to cause major traffic disruptions for people leaving the city heading north and to Logan Airport. The major alternative route, the Ted Williams Tunnel, is already experiencing stop-and-go traffic in the mornings and afternoons.

This reporter went down to the State Transportation Building for the bid opening. Instead of a frantic crowd of people waiting to see the outcome of four contracts being announced, I was the only outside person in the sixth floor conference room as the announcement was made electronically.

It was done by Bid Express, Secure Internet Bidding now used by the majority of states across the country and used by MassDOT since 2011. Frank Kucharski of the DOT told me how the bidding process had changed.

In the good old days, piles of bids were sorted out in a conference room before a cluster of anxious bidders. The winning names and amounts were read aloud. It took almost an hour. The Bid Express process took five minutes.

The bidders got the good news on their office computers.

There was only one problem and that’s this reporter’s follow-up with McCourt Construction.

I went on the Internet and even used the old-fashioned telephone yellow pages and couldn’t get anyone at McCourt to answer a phone. MassDOT could not tell me how to reach the company.

I wanted to know how many jobs would be created. The possibility of a one lane shutdown in December, as a test of the closing impact, had been discussed at a recent Massport Board Meeting.

One thing is for certain. Traffic reports on WBZ will be more important than ever this winter.

Bob Weiss and “All Things Travel” Reports can also be heard on WBZ News Radio


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